In literature, the way that people treat others is based solely on feelings and actions. The Odyssey is no exception to this. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey, both gods and goddesses have certain feelings and thoughts on the past actions of Odysseus and use them to decide how to treat him. Although many god to human relationships in The Odyssey exist, many gods and goddesses have different reasons to like or dislike Odysseus. In this book, gods and goddesses decide how to treat Odysseus based off of their feelings, pity and admiration, and Odysseus’s actions. Gods and goddesses such as Kalypso, Athena, and Poseidon have different reasons for how they decide to treat Odysseus, but they all have an important relationship to Odysseus to affect events in this book.
The goddess Kalypso decides how she’s going to treat Odysseus based off of her own feelings. When Odysseus first washed up on Kalypso’s island, she explains, “Wind and current washed him here to me. I fed him, loved him, saying that he should not die nor grow old, ever, in all the days to come” (V. 141-144). When Odysseus first appeared on Kalypso’s island, she instantly fell in love with him and wanted to keep him forever. With her first sight of Odysseus, she decided to keep him on her island because of her own feelings, she fell in love with him. At the beginning of the book, it explains, “Her ladyship Kalypso clung to him in her sea-hollowed caves–a nymph, immortal and most beautiful, who craved him for her own” (I. 22-25). Because Kalypso is craving Odysseus, she decides to hold him hostage on her island and doesn’t let him go. Kalypso’s cravings play a big part in why she chooses to keep him and what she decides to do with him. After Odysseus has been with Kalypso on her island for many years, Athena explains, “His daughter will not let Odysseus go, poor mournful man; she keeps coaxing him with her beguiling talk, to turn his mind from Ithaka. But such desire is in him merely to see the hearthsmoke leaping upward from his own island” (I. 75-80). When Athena says this, it clearly conveys the idea that Kalypso does not want Odysseus to leave at all, even though he truly wants to. She keeps on trying to turn his thoughts away from his homeland but decides to keep trying to do so because she desires him. Kalypso decides to keep Odysseus because of her own feelings in situations when she could easily let him go.
The way that Athena chooses how to treat Odysseus is based mostly on her pity for him as well as admiration. At the beginning of the book, Athena says, “But my own heart is broken for Odysseus, the master mind of war, so long a castaway upon an island in the running sea” (I. 66-68). Athena takes pity on Odysseus and has sympathy for him because he was stuck with Kalypso. She also calls him a ‘mastermind of war,’ and because she is the goddess of warfare, she appreciates this aspect of him. Odysseus is smart in war, and Athena likes that about him so she helps him. When Athena sees the suitors at Odysseus’s house, she exclaims to Telemakhos, his son, “But tell me, and make this clear to me: what gathering, what feast is this? Why here? A wedding? Revel? At the expense of all? Not that I think. How arrogant they seem, these gluttons, making free here in your house! A sensible man would blush to be among them” (I. 269-374). After the suitors eat all of the food, Athena makes it clear that she does not like them thereby coming up with a plan to get rid of them. The suitors being at Odysseus’s house is another reason that Athena takes pity on him. They are raiding his home and taking advantage of the rule that lets them have access to his home, Xenia. Athena does not like this, so she decides to come up with a plan to help Odysseus and Telemakhos get rid of them. Towards the end of the book when Odysseus and Telemakhos are finally fighting the suitors to get them out, the book says, “At this moment that unmanning thunder cloud, the aegis, Athena’s shield, took form a loft in the great hall” (XXII. 330-333). When Athena decides to help him, she does this because of her past experiences with Odysseus, and also his past. She likes to help him and wants to because she wanted the suitors to get out of his way anyways. Overall, Athena decides to help Odysseus because she takes pity on him for being stuck somewhere and having suitors raid his house, and also she decides to help him because of his past.
In The Odyssey, Poseidon decides how to treat Odysseus based on his past actions. When Odysseus and his men got stuck in a cave with Polyphemus, Poseidon’s son, they made a plan to get him to drift off into a deep sleep with wine so they could stab him in the eye and escape. Once he drank the wine and he fell asleep, the book says, “I drew it from the coals and my four fellows gave me a hand, lugging it near the Kyklops as more than natural force nerved them; straight forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it deep in his crater eye” (IX. 412-415). When Odysseus stabbed Polyphemus’s eye, it was the first reason for Poseidon’s anger. Although Poseidon did not yet know who did it, this was the main reason for his holding a big grudge against Odysseus. Odysseus stabbing Polyphemus is also the beginning to Poseidon making Odysseus’s journey on the sea much more difficult. After Odysseus and his crew escape Polyphemus, Odysseus said to Polyphemus, “O Kyklops! Would you feast on my companions? Puny, I am, in a caveman’s hands? How do you like the beating that we gave you, you damned cannibal?” (IX. 519-523). When Odysseus was taunting Polyphemus because he escaped him, it gave Poseidon all the more reason to dislike him. Poseidon decided to treat Odysseus badly, and Odysseus taunting Polyphemus didn’t help Poseidon like him at all. After he and his men escaped from Polyphemus, Odysseus says to Polyphemus, “Kyklops, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes’ son, whose home’s on Ithaka!” (IX. 549-552). When Odysseus revealed his name to Polyphemus, Poseidon knew who hurt his son so he had someone to blame. Odysseus was being arrogant and told Polyphemus his name because he was very confident at the time, but Poseidon knew from then on that he would make Odysseus’s journey very difficult. Odysseus’s choices such as stabbing Polyphemus, taunting him, and telling him his true identity all combine to create a reason for Poseidon to treat Odysseus badly.
Throughout The Odyssey, gods and goddesses are presented with a lot of information on Odysseus to decide how to treat him. They can decide how to treat Odysseus from feelings, pity and admiration, and his actions. Every day, every person is given reasons to treat other people differently, and this idea carries over to The Odyssey. Gods and Goddesses must also choose different situations to determine how to treat Odysseus.
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